30 Rock was a tremendous success, earning both fan and critical acclaim — as well as three Emmy Awards (2007, 2008, 2009) for Outstanding Comedy Series. In 2017, Hulu signed a deal with NBCUniversal to stream all seven seasons. Then in 2021, Netflix got in on the action to bring the show back to its platform.
Based on the trials and tribulations of Tina Fey and her days as head writer of Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock is best known for its surreal humor which typically took place at 30 Rockefeller Plaza — where SNL is produced and where 30 Rock was predominantly filmed. However, some of the best scenes were shot right here on the Upper West Side, where Tina Fey and her character, Liz Lemon, both live.
So why don’t you make yourself a cupcake sandwich, a plate of cheesy blasters and grab a bag of Sabor de Soledad (wait, maybe not those) for your tour of 30 Rock locations around the neighborhood.
The Tree Outside Liz Lemon’s Apartment Window — 160 Riverside Drive
“No human is truly the master of his fate.” – Thank You Smiley Face Bag (season 5, episode 22).
Words of wisdom from Thank You Bag to Liz in her UWS apartment window. Liz hates Thank You Bag for obstructing her view as she tries to bring her dream apartment to life. We know the feeling. Thank You Bag is the only thing left in her way.
“I’m not ruining your view. I’m reminding you of your mortality.” – Thank You Bag
More words of wisdom from Thank You Bag to Liz, but Lemon takes it to the street and uses a saw to cut down the branch that Thank You Bag is on.
Then Liz gets tasered by a cop with OCD who loves doing paperwork. Falling down, Lemon screams “worth it” as Thank You Smiley Face Bag goes down with her. Congratulations Liz, love the tenacity.
But wait, oh no! Liz almost gets hit by a biker hauling a box of plastic bags on the sidewalk (sheesh). The box falls to the ground as some bags catch the wind; as many as six of them wind up in the tree outside her apartment window.
Thank You Smiley Face Bag was right. Liz drops to her knees and yells, “Nooooo! Mortality!”
Inside Liz Lemon’s Apartment — 160 Riverside Drive
This 1929 co-op has a special place in Upper West Side entertainment history. Not only is 160 Riverside Drive home to Liz, but it’s also where Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) lives in You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan. Hardcore 30 Rockers might have noticed that Lemon’s apartment address mysteriously changes from 160 Riverside to 168 Riverside in season 6, episode 22 (“What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?”).
Some great memories were made in this domicile – “But whatever you do, don’t open that kitchen window” when Liz is in the bathroom. Aack!
In season 1, episode 8 (“The Break Up”), Liz comes home to find her boyfriend, Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters) — AKA “The Beeper King,” putting holes in her wall; nine in total so he can mount a TV. Duffy describes the new decor for her room as a “hospital.” Lemon’s not amused. A great dane Dennis brought in enters the room, but Liz is allergic to dogs. When she goes into her bedroom, Lemon finds another one of Duffy’s friends (this one a human) laid out in her bed. Three strikes Beeper King, you’re out!
When he’s not wrecking the place and tormenting Liz’s life, Duffy does deliver some upside. He makes chili and loves late night cheesesteaks. Liz reflects on the good times. “I guess they were mostly food related.” In the end it’s just not meant to be for these two. Onward and upward, Lemon.
Liz wasn’t immune to her own devilish hijinks. In season 4, episode 6 (“Sun Tea”), Liz tries to get her upstairs neighbor to move out so she can buy his apartment and combine both spaces into a duplex for herself. Let’s cue up one of the sweetest staged meltdowns of all time.
All of these scenes are awesome indeed, but none are more memorable than when Liz saves her own life by giving herself the Heimlich maneuver.
Which leads to our next scene.
Café des Artistes – 1 West 67th Street
In season 1, episode 3 (“Blind Date”) Jack offers to become Liz’s mentor, citing the Japanese art of Reiki. Jack explains Reiki as “the laying on of hands in order to improve one’s life.”
So Jack sets up Liz on a blind date with “Thomas” after Liz almost dies in her apartment (as described above). Donaghy believes, rightfully so, that Lemon has had a lack of human contact and that it’s effecting her job performance. Liz, who hasn’t had a date in over a year, agrees.
Turns out Thomas is Gretchen Thomas and Jack thought Liz was a lesbian. They meet at Café des Artistes, now The Leopard at des Artistes.
Liz is blindsided when she meets Gretchen. “Why would Jack just assume that we’re lesbians?” When Gretchen discloses that she’s a lesbian, she asks Liz if “this the first time somebody’s made that assumption about you?”
Following a montage of the times people did, Liz and Gretchen actually hit it off in a friendly manner — but that’s not enough for Gretchen who’s looking for something more serious.
They return to the restaurant where Liz kicks off the conversation, extending an invitation to see Margaret Cho at Beacon Theatre — but Gretchen says she needs a break because she’s not into chasing straight girls. Lemon’s not ready for the big life change because if she’s going to be with someone, it has to be a guy.
“What can I say, I love a bald spot and a hairy back,” remarks Liz before offering to make a pact that if neither of them find someone in “like 25 years,” they move in and become roommates. “And even though I’m not into the sex stuff, if it helps you, I would let you do stuff to me.” Gretchen responds, “I can’t be around you anymore. Bye Liz.”
READ MORE: A List of Famous People Who Live on the Upper West Side
The Eleanor Roosevelt Monument in Riverside Park (72nd Street)
Liz loves feminist blog “Joan of Snark,” so when it accuses her show — TGS with Tracy Jordan — of being misogynistic, she takes it to heart.
Lemon responds by hiring female comic Abby Flynn, who Joan of Snark regarded as “The Freshest Female Voice in Comedy.” The goal was to address the blog’s claim that her show (TGS) lacked female writers and depicted “detracting, stereotypical portrayals of female characters.”
Abby Flynn, played by Cristin Milloti, turns out to be the exact opposite of what Liz was looking for.
In an attempt to get Abby to drop her ‘sexy baby’ act, Liz brings her to the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument in Riverside Park. Lemon tries to get Abby to ditch her ‘character,’ but Abby fights back saying this is really her and then questions Liz for judging her over her sexuality and the way she talks. “This is who I am, deal with it. Now are we going to give the gentleman what he asked for or not?” (The gentleman is a homeless guy played by Hannibal Buress).
Liz sleuths it out and discovers Abby Flynn is really Abby Grossman and confronts her in front of everybody.
It’s possible the Abby Flynn/Abby Grossman character may be a reference to Janeane Garofalo, who quit SNL after one season, accusing the show of treating female talent poorly.
Dr. Zapler’s Office – 87th and West End Avenue
“You are truly the Picasso of loneliness” – Jack Donaghy to Liz Lemon for scheduling a root canal to avoid Valentine’s Day.
Lemon winds up super high from the meds at Dr. Zapler’s, and after her procedure, hallucinates that her ex-boyfriends (Floyd, Drew and Duffy) show up to take her home. She goes on a trippy diatribe about love.
Liz: “I will find love someday. Because I am a sailor on the sea of the human heart.”
In another visit, Liz gets high again and thinks she meets her ‘future husband,’ Wesley Snipes.
We would also like to thank Dr. Zapler for the pamphlet: Hard Cheeses And Your Root Canal, Liz. We’ve been getting great use out of it too.
READ MORE: The Breakup Scene from “You’ve Got Mail” was Filmed at this Forgotten UWS Haunt
Barney Greengrass – 541 Amsterdam Avenue
Liz gets a taste of the beautiful life when she dates Dr. Drew Baird played by Jon Hamm.
Baird lives the good life in his beautiful ‘bubble.’ A cop rips up his parking ticket and pays his meter dues and Calvin Klein stops him on the street to say he should be his next underwear model. Baird goes on to score him and Liz a table, without a reservation, at the elusive (make believe) restaurant Plunder; land of the elusive Lover’s Delight dessert that costs a cool thousand dollars.
“It is ridiculous how people treat him. The chefs sent over food, ladies sent drinks, Mayor Bloomberg asked him to dance,” recounted Lemon on the experience. Jack informs Liz that “Beautiful people are treated differently from moderately pleasant looking people” — before further explaining the bubble as a place of “free drinks, kindness and outdoor sex.” Liz is curious how Drew turned out as well as he did (being a pediatrician) while living in an environment like this. Donaghy, in his infinite wisdom, shares this last bit of advice: “the bubble doesn’t last forever. So get in there with Drew and enjoy those perks while you can.”
Lemon wants to wake Drew up from the false reality of the ‘bubble,’ and what better place for a reality check than the pride of the Upper West Side. Liz takes Drew to Barney Greengrass.
Drew is flabbergasted when he learns there’s a 45 minute wait for a table. Liz stops him from speaking with the hostess (who would have sat them right away). Lemon says she’s going to show him something by waiting for the table. Drew is bewildered but agrees — for about 3.5 seconds — before saying, “I hate this.”
Relishing the reality check, Liz smiles and remarks, “this is going to be unpleasant.”
When they finally get a table, Drew doesn’t see what he wants on the menu but tells Liz he would “love a catfish po’ boy with Diet Raspberry Fanta.”
Liz places the menu over Drew’s face and proceeds to place the most absurd order in BG history: “We will have a turkey burger deluxe and a catfish po’ boy with a Diet Raspberry Fanta” — to which the waitress responds, “I’m gonna come back in five minutes. You try to order off the menu again I will smack those glasses off your face.”
Drew is shocked. Surely if the waitress saw Drew’s face that order would have been accepted. “What was that? Why didn’t she call you sweetheart and where’s the complimentary app sampler? What’s going on?”
Liz now has the window to explain to Drew that “this is how most people live,” going on to tell him “you live in a bubble where people do what you want and tell you what you want to hear.”
Drew says he doesn’t want to live that way and he doesn’t want Liz to treat him that way, but it doesn’t work out. Cut to Liz beating Drew in tennis, something he’s not accustomed to since women ask him for lessons all the time; he melts down, throws his racket on the court and screams, “that’s it, I quit. This racket is farts and you cheat. You’re a cheating bitch!”
Drew decides to stay in the bubble and invites Liz to go upstate with him on his motorcycle. Liz declines before Drew peels out and proceeds to hit a car and almost crash another three or four times before getting to the light. It’s no surprise that Drew eventually ends up losing both of his hands which get replaced by hooks.
When Jack loses his job to Devon Banks (played by Will Arnett), Banks struggles immensely in his big new role for General Electric. He crosses paths with Jack in Central Park, without any shoes, saying he “must have left them in a business meeting” — when in reality he was hooking up with two dudes, likely in The Ramble.
Jack is awestruck, advising Banks, “Bank’s you’ve got to get a hold of yourself, you’ve got a company to run.” The evil Banks won’t hear any of it, firing back, “Oh, I’m running it. I have a plan to quadruple profits by 2015.” Banks plans to shut down General Electric for two years. “Imagine how badly people will want lightbulbs then.”
Banks goes on to say he sold the ‘E’ in G.E. (General Electric) to Samsung. “They’re Samesung now,” he says before running away and scaling up rocks to get to a board meeting in Connecticut.
Jack also takes his mother (played by the ever-majestic Elaine Stritch) for a horse drawn carriage ride by Sheep Meadow in the final season. Jack’s mother is known for being a battle axe, one you can’t help but love despite her tough love for her son and everyone else she comes in contact with. However, on this carriage ride, she tells her son, “All I want is for you to be happy,” before passing away of a heart attack by his side.
Finally, in the series finale (“Hogcock!/Last Lunch”), Peter Hornberger (played by the great Scott Adsit) fakes his death and leaves his family. In the final scene of the entire series, following the closing credits, we see Pete wearing a fake mustache running by a sign that says “City of Hickory Civitan Park and Golf Course.” In reality, this is in Central Park … we suspect right by the reservoir. Pete’s wife Paula pulls up beside him in a van and takes him back home after he fails his “amnesia” defense story. Sorry Pete.
Hippo Playground in Riverside Park
In the series finale, season 7, episode 12 — “Hogcock!/Last Lunch” — Liz gets accosted on GothamMoms.com when she asks, “Any recs for the best place to buy a girl’s bike on the UWS?” Shortly thereafter, Liz gets ransacked again when she tells them she’s “a stay at home mom who until recently had a high-power job. Any advice on dealing with that transition?” She calls out her troll to meet her at the Hippo Playground in Riverside Park (at 91st Street).
Turns out Liz was fighting with her husband, Crisstopher Rick Chros (no typo), performed by James Marsden, who shows up ready to go at it. Criss is dumbfounded when Liz tells him she is the “original poster.”
Criss admits he hates work while Liz confesses she misses it, saying she’s a terrible mother. “It’s okay to want to work. One of us has to, we just got it backwards. You’re a dad,” says Criss as he comforts Liz before they hatch a plan to create a new TV show for Kenneth, the NBC page who now runs the company. The scene ends with Liz and Criss doing a top-gun high five.
Let’s take a moment to rejoice in the fact that Liz Lemon found true love.
Magnolia Bakery? Crumbs? (Address not confirmed)
In the opening scene of season 3, episode 4 (“Gavin Volure”) — played by Upper West Sider, Steve Martin — Volure announces to his dinner party guests that he wants to send his driver into Manhattan to pick up dessert. “Anybody know a good place for cupcakes?”
Liz gives no names but mentions three intersections: “77th and Amsterdam, 68th and Columbus, 125th and President Clinton Boulevard.”
Here’s what’s perplexing: there are no cupcake shops at any of those intersections. Not now and not when the episode aired in November 2008. However, a Magnolia can be found at 69th and Columbus and at the time this episode aired, there was a Crumbs on 75th and Amsterdam. As for President Clinton Boulevard, well, that doesn’t exist, but maybe she really meant Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and West 139th Street? You can find a Make My Cake there which Liz orders as a ‘last lunch’ for TGS along with Nobu Fifty Seven in the series finale.
We may never know the reason behind this potential trail of bread crumbs. Tina Fey, would you reach out to tell me what’s was going on there, please?
There’s a similar style ‘fake-out’ in season 4 of Seinfeld in which Kramer, waiting in line with George and Elaine at the Paragon Theater on the Upper West Side, says “I don’t want to get a movie hot dog, I want a Papaya King hot dog.” Alas, there is no Papaya King on the Upper West Side, leaving Gray’s Papaya the only realistic papaya option.
READ MORE: Seinfeld Locations on the Upper West Side!
Citarella – 2135 Broadway
Jack tells Kenneth, the page, that he has a bet with his business school roommates to see who can make the most money every four years in the classic episode, “Leap Day” (season 6, episode 9).
Things start off poorly for Jack when the stock shares for NBC’s new parent company, Kabletown (a joke name for Comcast), drop to 20% of their value.
Kenneth finds Jack eating rhubarb in his office and expresses concern. “Careful sir, those leaves are poisonous. You know the saying: Rhubarb red, eat away! Rhubarb green, don’t eat them!”
In a magical episode in which Kenneth helps Jack see the light, Donaghy celebrates the day sending Kenneth off to Citarella to “buy the biggest rhubarb there is.”
American Museum of Natural History
Now that NBC is run by Kabletown, Jack has a new nemesis: Kaylee Hooper, played by Chloë Grace Moretz. Kaylee is the granddaughter of Kabletown CEO, Hank Hooper.
Thinking like the true capitalist he is, Jack fears Kaylee could someday take over NBC since Kabletown is known (like Comcast) as a ‘family business’ and Hank Hooper is known as a family man. So, he tries to steer Kaylee to a new professional interest at her young age in an ‘inception’ like fashion.
Kaylee is playing the same game with Jack. She doesn’t want Donaghy to know she does indeed plan to take over the company, so Kaylee tells him her dream is to become a marine biologist.
Jack begins to pull his strings and use his contacts which brings them to the American Museum of Natural History, where Haylee meets legendary marine biologist Bob Ballard.
Mr. Donaghy takes Haylee on a private tour of the museum with Ballard, who gives Haylee a badge naming her a ‘Student Argonaut.’ Haylee, playing her game, acts excited. Great minds think alike here because deep down, Jack always wanted to be a marine biologist and he fantasizes about what it would be like as he stands near the giant blue whale.
This duel between the two is far from over. Later in the episode, the two let it be known that the duel is on.
Kaylee Hooper: “You can’t beat me Mr. Donaghy. You worked your way into this world, but I, I was born into it.”